the ball poem
Extracts from this essay...
Genre/Form / Medium Poem Title, Author and Publication details "The Ball Poem",John Berryman, from the collection of The Dream Songs (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1969) Context of the composer and text 1.John Allyn Berryman (originally John Allyn Smith) (Oct. 25, 1914 - Jan. 7, 1972) was an American poet, born in McAlester, Oklahoma. He was a major figure in American poetry in the second half of the 20th century and often considered one of the founders of the Confessional school of poetry. He was the author of The Dream Songs, which are playful, witty, and morose. Berryman's life was dominated by suicide. In 1926, when the poet was twelve, his father, John Smith, a banker in Florida, shot himself. After his father's death, the poet's mother remarried, and thus he came to his new surname of Berryman. The vision of his father's suicide haunted John Berryman's poetic imagination, and the subject is addressed indirectly in the Dream Songs several times and directly once, where the poet wishes that he could kill the corpse of his father. In 1972, Berryman's depression led him to follow the example of his father and to kill himself by jumping from the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I am not a little boy." This quote illustrates how the boy must cross the boundary to grow up into a man. Playing with balls is a child's game and when the ball is gone, he's no longer a child and has crossed that boundary. He now bears "the epistemology of loss." In "The Ball Poem", Berryman tells us about how our childhood can quickly fly by, as quickly as a ball is lost, and how we sometimes unsuspectingly must grow up and face hardships, like loss. But in this situation, the loss leads to suicidal and the breakage of boundaries into freedom. Relationship to extracts of set texts "The Ball Poem" can be related to the story of "Melanie" introduction by Fiona Giles in that it portrays many of the aspects and themes in relation to "The Ball Poem". The poem brings about the experience of loss and how to recover from this traumatic loss. The boy in the poem ultimately crosses the boundary into suicidal, similarly to Melanie. Although Melanie is also about the fear of growing up and crossing the boundary to adulthood, it also coincides with "The Ball Poem" of the boundary between life and death and that the ultimate step to cross the boundary is taken - suicidal.
suffer and move, my mind and my heart move/ With all that move me, under the water/ Or whistling, I am not a little boy. In a way it seems as if the 'epistemology of loss' did not succeed in teaching the subject(s) of the poem "how to stand up," since a part of the subject(s) "will explore the deep and dark / Floor of the harbour," which can be seen as a figure of suicide by drowning, "under the water". If one goes along with this assumption, there is, however, still the question of which part of the "me" it is that drowns. Could it be that the part that drowns is the one infested with loss and that the drowning of this part is a form of escape from the bonds of loss of the other subject(s)? "The Ball Poem" could be seen as a poem about loss, about suffering death, and about finding one's way in the face of self-destruction and breaking the boundary into freedom. How this text has developed my understanding of the Area of Study The text of "The Ball Poem" has developed my understanding of 'Crossing Boundaries' through the conveyance of loss and that loss can trigger many forms of overcoming boundaries. Though this poem's ultimate crossing was suicidal, other forms to overcome loss may be growing up.
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